Amusing Ourselves to Death

In pursuit of moderation, I’ve concluded that anyone desirous to be on TV is indelibly insane, devious, and in desperate need of psychiatric intervention or a humane, entertaining form of euthanasia.

Indeed, the only reality TV for which I conceal a mild craving would resemble the movie “The Running Man.” (For Millennials and Gen Z: Before Arnold Schwarzenegger became a professional Californian, he was an actor in something called the moving pictures.)

In “The Running Man’s” dystopian America, convicts are forced into a gameshow to battle psychopathic hunters in a lopsided bid for their freedom. The contestants on my utopian redux would not be mere criminals, but influencers. 

I’d pluck other hopefuls from the ranks of LinkedIn, along with anyone entitled “thought leader,” and anyone who drops their EV into every conversation. I’d also condemn the peddlers of falafel, and those irredeemables who like, always? uplift like, every sentence? as if it were a question?

In this just world of mine, vocal fry and vocal uplift would constitute crimes against humanity. The punishment (for them, at least) would be an appearance on “Running Man.” (Sorry, scolds, Running Person Assigned Male at Birth didn’t fit on the billboard, nor did it roll off the tongue.)

Contestants would earn their freedom by escaping the clutches of a cadre of palpably gleeful justice-seekers armed with advanced, and often prototype weaponry.

For the time being, my modest proposal is probably a touch too out there. No doubt, “Running Man” would improve the condition of the twerking class by dissolving many rivals within the twerking class. A kind of creative destruction. It’s a win-win, and all gravy. After all, the contestants crave nothing more than fame and the worship of strangers.

For influencers, appearing on “Running Man” would be their pilgrimage to Mecca. Just think of the likes and the follows and the retweets they’d absorb, as a justice-seeker immortalizes them into a pile of Instagrammable ash. Everyone’s a winner.

Recently on the New York subway, the speakers for once emitted legible noises. Usually, the speaker tends toward pharmaceutical extremes. 

When sponsored by Xanax™ the speaker drawls like a Walkman running out of battery: “This… is… Parkside… Av… nyoo.” When sponsored by Adderall™: “The next stop is Parkside Avenue! Stand-clear-the-closing-doors! Bing-bong!” 

The speaker then announced the three most loathsome words in the English language: replacement bus service.

Corralled off the train, we assembled onto the waiting bus like cattle en route to the slaughterhouse. A surreal spectacle ensued. Seemingly, the bus driver had that morning considered spraying hollow-point bullets into pedestrians and suicide-by-cop, before instead trudging into work for the ten-thousandth time. You won’t believe what happened next! . . .

Read the rest at Christopher Gage’s Substack, Oxford Sour. And please subscribe.


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About Christopher Gage

Christopher Gage is a British political journalist and a founding member of the Gentlemen of the Swig. Subscribe to his Substack, "Oxford Sour."

Photo: iStock/GETTY IMAGES